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FEATURE STORY January 10, 2019

Guinea: Facilitating Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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“I always wanted to be independent and start my own business,” states Mariama who is one of the winners of the Business Plan Competition. 

Photo: Mamadou Bah, World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • As in the rest of Africa, the socioeconomic integration of young people is a key concern in Guinea.
  • The Guinean Government is making a special effort to respond to this challenge through a project to build skills and provide business start-up assistance.
  • More than 20,000 young Guineans will benefit from this project, including 18,000 in pre-service training and over 2,800 unemployed graduates.

CONAKRY, January 10, 2019-- Africa is by far the youngest continent in the world with 200 million citizens aged 15 to 24 years. This figure is projected to double by 2045. Such is the case in Guinea, where 70% of  the country’s 13 million citizens are under the age of 35. This raises the issue of economic opportunities available to these young people who are entering the job market in increasingly high numbers every year.  It is estimated that over 60% of young Guinean graduates are unemployed. This often stems from a mismatch between their skills and employers’ expectations.

Being Innovative and Seizing Opportunities

Some of these young people, like Mariama and Mohamed—both determined and full of innovative ideas—have opted to circumvent these challenges by becoming entrepreneurs in order to create their dream jobs themselves. “I always wanted to be independent and start my own business,” states Mariama who, at the age of 24, would like to create an online platform and mobile application for purchasing and repairing home appliances, putting clients in direct contact with technicians. “I thought about this project because today, in Guinea, no tool exists to connect sellers, technicians, and clients with each other,” she explains. “Recommendations are made by word of mouth and people have to systematically travel around to make the simplest purchase.” 

Meanwhile, Mohamed plans to enter the beekeeping business to make honey and other by-products, by installing modern beehives in the Kindia prefecture. “There is enormous potential that is not being tapped at the moment,” affirms this 25-year-old young man. “In 2017, Guinea only officially exported 227 kg of honey. I was inspired by the examples of China, Venezuela, and Mexico, which are major honey-exporting countries.” 

Mariama and Mohamed are among 100 winners of the Business Plan Competition (BPC) organized by the Stepping Up Skills Project [Booster les compétences pour l’employabilité des jeunes BoCEJ], implemented by the Ministry of Youth. With $20 million in financing from the World Bank, the project aims to boost the employability and employment outcomes of Guinean youth through programs to build or acquire targeted skills in the most promising sectors such as agriculture, health, and energy.


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Mohamed plans to enter the beekeeping business to make honey and other by-products, by installing modern beehives in the Kindia prefecture. 

Photo: Mamadou Bah, World Bank


Customized Support

Organized in three stages, the competition first offered free entrepreneurship training to 100 young beneficiaries with innovative projects. After this training, the top 25 among them were able to move on to an intensive eight-week course to help them enhance their projects and develop a business plan. A nine-member jury including business owners, entrepreneurs, and bankers then selected the 10 most innovative projects to receive technical support from an incubator over 12 months.

Personalized coaching from business owners was among the most valued modules, with the key element being advice aimed at providing a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with the Guinean private sector. “This training provided me with specific technical skills needed to become an entrepreneur,” states Mohamed. “I hope to be able to produce as much, if not more, honey than beekeepers in other countries in the subregion within three years! With a lot of perseverance and hard work, I can be successfully self-employed and self-supporting.” 

Moreover, in order to ensure the quality of the course offerings in higher education institutions, the project also helped create a national quality assurance agency to oversee the quality of university programs and financed with $5.4 million USD 15 higher education and training institutions.

“The Stepping Up Skills Project seeks, among other objectives, to improve the effectiveness of training programs in universities and vocational institutions and to provide professional opportunities to young, job-seeking graduates by strengthening their skills through training, internships, jobs, or personalized support for business creation,” emphasizes Assane Dieng, World Bank Education Specialist. “The World Bank invests heavily in human capital and we are working tirelessly to help Guinea respond to the employment challenges facing its youth.”

In total, more than 20,000 young people will benefit from this project, including 18,000 in pre-service training (vocational and university-level) and over 2,800 unemployed graduates.

 



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